Advice for retakers

Advice from a 7-time L3 re-taker

Many re-takers are probably struggling after these results so I wanted to leave a post. We struggle with understanding the concepts and where and how to apply them. With such vast breadth and depth of material, we are lost and drowning in the sea of CFA level 3.

First of all, as a disclaimer, I have not passed the exam yet but do feel I should comment. I am currently enrolled with Deep 3 Prep who only works with re-takers. Concepts I thought I knew, I didn’t know them well. I’ve taken every popular prep provider out there for L3 and the amount of knowledge I have gained from this course is real. I don’t want to name the other providers, but if they taught L3, I’ve done it. As a side note, many people know me from the forums here and I’m not some made up candidate. I have been posting here for years.

Deep 3 prep is one person show. He only teaches L3 re-takers because he is passionate about helping retakers pass this exam. He spends a lot of personal time helping me out. I know he only takes something like 40 students a year and devotes all his attention to us. His material is great and he focuses on the official curriculum with his own videos and condensed notes and both are excellent. It’s the best material I have come across and have learned the concepts like never before.

If you are a re-taker, I suggest reaching out to him and to make your own decision. I can’t explain all the different things the course does here in the post. Feel free to message me as well if you like in a private message.

Just wanted to give my two cents and good luck on your next attempt. Hope that helps


I do not post much but I want to share my experience as well about DEEP 3. PM and we can even chat later. I feel that strongly about this class that I have no problem spending time chatting with potential candidates about this class. I know how great it felt to pass after being defeated. But I needed his help to hit a different level.

I’m a 3 time re-taker. Used a few Prep providers in the past, however, Deep 3 helped me see through the fluff and aim directly at the key to the concepts. By the last exam, it was such that no mater how the questions were twisted, I could always still hit the nail on the head.

The feedback process was also quite good, with Deep 3 always keeping up with me to ensure I didn’t fall far behind and also help with areas I struggled with. Deep 3 was able to assist me pull out the key tips that improved my exam odds.

The flow with the lessons also ensure you not only follow the classes but also grasp the concepts and practicalize answering questions asap, then keep pace…

I can go on an on, but truth be told, I will recommend Deep 3 to any re-takers… PM and we can even chat later if you need more info or clarification…

Hey all,

I haven’t posted in awhile but I’m a VETERAN here, and unlike some of the previous posts I have no problem bashing the big box brand test prep for L3 (yeah, I’m looking at your Schweser) because it took me three attempts to clear this final hurdle, with the first two being pretty much free donations to CFA Institute due to the material quality these bigger box prep providers shovel out.

Kind of makes sense if you think about it right, you get x,xxxx number of candidates likely signing up to prepare for an exam being taught by a handful of instructors. That’s not to say that all their instructors are bad (I’m sure there’s good ones) but you definitely to some extent lose out on the customized learning experience you would get from Deep3 given the smaller pool of candidates he works with. It’s like chemistry 101; an entire auditorium of students learning the same concept and not everyone learns the same way at the same rate. Needless to say, I think this boutique prep provider might be up & coming to be a premiere brand.

And a big part of that is the customized (and customized grading of AM) that help candidates hone in on areas of difficulty. I think MagicianS2000 offers grading but outside of that I don’t think there’s any other prep providers that will hand-grade each response and walk you through the highs and lows and give you an actual real-life score. AM was my weakest part of the exam as it is for so many other candidates and this was a game-charger hands down. But let me also say this, Deep3 is not a magic pill you take (or pay) and pass with flying colors; it’s simply a guide that will HELP you pass. There’s still a lot of work that the candidates need to do individually but the difference is, the HELP is there for YOU.

Disclaimer: no getting paid to say this. just a frequent re-visiting visitor to the site and figured I’d drop in my 2 cents for what it’s worth. Paid the fee to take Deep3 and it was a great experience; simple and easy like that. Be happy to chat about my experience in detail if anyone cares. Thanks all! Good Luck!


Hello Derswap07 - Did you pass using Deep 3?

Hello Retakers,

Quick background - completed the program in 5 years total time. Passed L1 on first attempt, L2 first attempt, L3 on third attempt finally passing during August 22 exam window.

L3 - Study materials used:

  • first attempt with Kaplan and did the 7 day bootcamp in Ontario Canada. Failed.
  • second attempt level up bootcamp. Failed. This was the first administration of the CBT Test and the 42% pass rate. I don’t think Level Up is terrible. It gives a great framework - work all the white text and blue box problems as many times as you can before the exam. Over and over and over.
  • third attempt - no study materials just CFAI curriculum only.

Keys to passing for me

  • I spent 6-7 months just deep learning the concepts, studying the white text and blue box and EOCs.
  • I spent time explaining the concepts out loud to my wife, myself and anyone who would listen
  • I worked all the Blue box and white text problems over and over and over again. I stopped doing mocks timed or not. I stopped using the CFAI question bank. I stopped trying to write/type better constructed responses. You can write anything you actually know. You can write anything you know well quickly.
  • I spent a week in a hotel by myself 3 weeks before the exam teaching myself all the key concepts aloud (it’s strange but it helped me)
  • I worked all the white text and blue box problems again during that week and up to few days before exam. I made a formula sheet the week before not exhaustive just things i thought would be key based on curriculum’s emphasis.

On exam day - I had far more easy recall for the essays. I think that’s the key - deep cycling through the curriculum, actually knowing the material to teach it to someone who knows nothing about it, and keep working all the white text problems and blue box (main take away from Level Up). Try your very best to shed discover blind spots you have in each topic area.

I would have thought the CFAI question bank and mock tests would be useful. Why drop those?

@betabirdjuice3000 what are the white text problems? You mean EOC problems = white text problems and examples = blue box problems?

@upod2019 I believe CFAI question bank is the same as the EOC problems with some additional case scenarios

Problems within the reading that are not blue box or EOC.

Mocks dont help you learm current material becuase it is testing dated material. Question bank are EOCs for the most part.

I don’t know where you’ve gotten your mock exams, but mine test current material, and are designed to be teaching tools as well as assessment tools.

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As a retaker

  • read less text,solve more questions,and then read text to figure out if you’ve gone wrong
  • Try getting 85%+ ( I know you would try to get 100%,but try not falling below 85%)in MCQ,to hedge against some slips in Essay portion
  • Fixed Income,Portfolio execution/ performance measurement,Economics and a portion of derivatives if tested,may offer more questions with direct calculations,and hence sure shot answers- if tested,get these right in full( 100%)
  • Ethics- focus more on SOPH,and case studies,than books.
  • GIPS- see EOC questions to understand how the topic will be tested Now go read!
    -Last one month- practice,practice practice.Remember everyone at L3 has passed that mountain of an exam ,L2. So while the exam may look deceptively easy,it isn’t so.

Would really appreciate answers on a couple of queries

  1. Did you use Mark Meldrum?
  2. If yes, how would you compare Deep3 with him?

Hi - thank you for the post, I was curious if you ended up passing after you took Deep3. If you cannot comment I would understand but if you can share that would be greatly appreciated as I am in the process of evaluating test prep providers. Thanks!